I live and work in the Highlands. I’m originally from Edinburgh, where I grew up hearing stories of my Shetland great-grandmother, who left to find work in the city as a young woman.
I am standing because too many decisions are made in Edinburgh that impact those of us who live rurally and on the islands but take little account of our communities’ views. I want to be a voice for our communities in the Scottish Parliament.
Climate scientists tell us that we have less than nine years to take action to reduce our carbon emissions. Our response to the pandemic has shown us that we can make changes rapidly. I want to ensure the transitions that take place in Shetland have communities at the centre and that people are supported with reskilling and training to make the change.
I work in Sustainable Community Development, where I support local people to design more sustainable means of living for themselves and their community. I know from experience that real change comes from the ground up. I’ve been involved in projects including locally-owned renewable energy, local investment, cohousing and car share schemes, among other sustainability-related initiatives. While these projects bring great benefit to communities, I am well aware of the challenges faced in realising them. I want to be in a position to help remove the blocks and push for proper investment.
I am a long-term campaigner with a particular focus on community empowerment, food security and resilience. As a Director of Transition Town Forres, a charity working towards a sustainable low-carbon lifestyle, I collaborated with NHS Grampian and several other third sector organisations to deliver a healthy eating programme.
With a family history of ancestors having to leave their homes to find work and a future, I am well aware of the challenges of depopulation our island communities face. This could change if communities had more power locally to shape their lives in a way that works for the people and the natural environment.
I will be pushing for Universal Basic Income and for trials to start immediately as a way of ensuring we are all supported through this fragile time made worse by the pandemic. This kind of universal, unconditional financial support is needed right now for everyone to get back on their feet and not have to make a difficult choice about where to live.
Another major priority is connectivity, both transport and broadband. We need better bus and ferry connections and, where it makes sense, fixed links with that double for tidal energy generation. We need to treat broadband as a utility just like electricity and prioritise rural and island areas. Big promises have been made, but real investment has been too slow, and rural connectivity has moved down the agenda.
I have seen the impact that Green MSPs have had in securing free bus travel for everyone under 22, a pay rise for all public sector workers, and in Shetland free school meals for 1,222 primary school children and pandemic relief payments for 1190 families. We have been able to do this by working hard and engaging constructively during budget negotiations.
I want to be part of the team and to ensure that local voices are central to the decisions that affect us. I want to build a fairer, greener Scotland for people in Shetland and across our communities.